Humanism is a philosophy, worldview, and religion that places humanity and the material at the center of philosophical inquiry. It rejects gods, and theistic religions, instead seeing "man as the measure of all things." Its tenets originate from pagan Ancient Greece and classical philosophy. It was revived (in a somewhat different form) during the European Renaissance, but faded and re-emerged in the 20th century with a significant pagan and atheistic emphasis. It continues to have a major impact in shaping modern ways of thought, making its presence felt in such fields as legislation, liberal junk science, education, and art. J.O. Markuš maintains that Humanism without God leads to bestiality and that the true nature of human attributes can bloom only in the realms of Kingdom of God.
In an environment of widespread paganism, humanism first emerged in the thought of Ancient Greece.
In the times of Renaissance Europe, various classical Greek and Latin works (thought lost) had been rediscovered. This saw the rise of Christian Humanism, which argued that the height of Western civilization had been in the classical period. However, with the fall of Rome, much knowledge had been lost, suggesting that much of the knowledge that remained was corrupted by false traditions. It was therefore the responsibility of the scholar to rediscover the original Greek and Latin texts, and thereby separate false interpretations of reality from real wisdom.
Proponents of Christian humanism looked to Ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration on how to develop society and political structures. The poet Petrarch rediscovered writings by the ancient Roman orator and politician Cicero, whose ideas about the role and structure of government inspired the humanists to reconsider established views about society and call for expanded civic participation in the state. In addition to Cicero, other classical sources were also consulted and referred to. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote his "Discourses on Livy", in which he commented on the history of ancient Rome written by the Roman historian Livy, and used his writings to show the virtues of the Roman Republic and how a republican state should behave.
This movement had a profound effect on medieval society. With its emphasis on classical texts and the rejection of much of the Roman Catholic religious tradition that developed in the Middle Ages, this form of humanism helped lead to the Protestant Reformation. Many of the new humanist liberal Bible translations, such as Erasmus's Greek New Testament, were important sources for both Martin Luther's translation of the Bible and the King James Version of the Bible.
Despite the siting of humanism within Christianity during the Middle Ages, this structure was not sustained. Radical changes to the meaning of humanism occurred in the modern era. The 20th century atheistic philosophy of pagan humanism emerged, and grew out of the liberal enlightenment, relying entirely on reason without religion. Humanism therefore rejects the idea of a supernatural being responsible for the creation of the universe. As a result, humanists believe instead that people are responsible for their actions and that purpose in the universe is not dependent upon the existence of or faith in a god. The International Humanist and Ethical Union's Minimum Statement on Humanism states:
|“||Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.||”|
A principal element of pagan humanism is the assumption of fundamental human rights - which may include a right to life, to liberty, freedom of speech, the right to pursue happiness, a right to a family life, and similar things. However, humanism does not claim these rights are given by God, but are an inherent property of human intelligence and worthy of defending, although the exact definition of rights is not universally agreed upon by humanists. Humanists encourage self will and independent thought in all matters, which can include Judeo-Christian as well as Humanist principles.
Secular humanism is humanism that is atheistic in nature. It is an idea in which man is self-centered, is an animal and no god is involved. People who are secular humanists do not believe in God and purport to focus on things to better themselves and humanity, such as democracy, peace, a flourishing economy, a high standard of living, and other earthly pursuits. They do not believe in any gods or spiritual matters, which is a factor in their earthly pursuits. However, secular humanists who have often engaged in bitter infighting amongst themselves, have fallen far short of this moral standard (See: Atheism, social justice and hypocrisy and Atheist factions).
Infighting within the Secular Humanism faction of atheism caught on tape
Paul Kurtz is an atheist philosopher who formerly taught at the State University of NY at Buffalo. Dr. Paul Kurtz founded the modern secular humanism movement which is a form of philosophical skepticism. In addition, he also founded the organization the Center for Inquiry which focuses on promoting secular humanism. In 2009, Dr. Kurtz lost his leadership position at the Center for Inquiry. Dr. Kurtz described this humiliating event as a "shattering blow".
Currently, there is an ideological struggle within the secular humanism faction of atheism concerning how militant the movement should be which primarily arose post New Atheism movement which is a more militant form of atheism. (see also: Militant atheism and Atheist factions). Paul Kurtz is against the secular humanism movement becoming more militant but some newer followers of secular humanism disagree with Kurtz.
On October 10, 2010, a contentious exchange between members of the Secular Humanism faction of atheism founded by Paul Kurtz and the atheist Ron Lindsay was caught on tape.Video - Part oneVideo - Part 2 During the exchange Ron Lindsay said that infighting has been occurring within the Secular Humanism faction of atheism for years. A Paul Kurtz supporter said that Kurtz was censored by Ron Lindsay and his supporters and driven out of the organization that he founded (Center for Inquiry). Lindsay claimed, however, that Kurtz voluntarily resigned from the organization he founded and Kurtz was never censored. Furthermore, Lindsay said that Kurtz's idea of a "planetary federation" was impractical. Kurtz countered that he was never allowed to publish why he resigned from the organization and that he was censored by the organization that he founded.
Hypocrisy of secular humanists
See also: Atheist hypocrisy
The American Humanist Association defines humanism thusly: "Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity." The American Humanist Association's slogan is "Good without God".
In 2011, the atheist PZ Myers won the International Humanist Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Prior to that in 2009, Myers won the Humanist of the Year award from the American Humanist Association.
In 2008, Myers rejoiced at the death of a Brazilian Roman Catholic priest who died a premature accidental death and then Myers fantasized about personally killing other priests. See also: PZ Myers and social justice
Classification as philosophy, worldview, or religion
Humanists themselves have openly admitted of humanism's religious attributes for decades. Despite this, the claim is occasionally denied and sometimes attempted to be recast as a philosophy, worldview, or life stance (or some combination of the above). Its modern incarnation saw it as the creation of a religion by the Unitarian clergyman Charles Francis Potter and offered up as a substitute for Christian fundamentalism. In the early 1980s media controversies involving pagan humanism as a religion emerged.
Humanism has been criticized by a number of Christian authors, given its rejection of the Christian God's authority and elevation of fallen man in His place. R.J. Rushdoony said:
|“||Since World War II in particular, the humanistic establishment of the United States has been in a steady if not covert war against Biblical faith and law. It has steadily overturned long-standing landmarks of Biblical law in favor of humanistic law. It has begun to prosecute Christian groups which will not submit to regulations and controls.||”|
- Potter, C.F. & C.C. Humanism, A New Religion Simon and Schuster; (1930)
- Burkhardt, F & Otto, M.C. The cleavage in our culture: studies in scientific humanism in honor of Max Otto; Books for Libraries Press, Freeport N.Y; p. 195 (1969).
- Jozef Ondrej Markuš (2001). Prorok Daniel (in Slovak). Matica slovenská, 135. ISBN 80-7090-600-6. “V tomto svete panuje princíp dravcov. Len v Božom kráľovstve sa vyvíja to naozaj ľudské - pravá pdstata človeka. HUmanizmus bez Boha vedie k beštialite. Všetko čo sa odthne od Boha, má zvieracie sklony, vedie k dravcovi. Šelmy sa navzájom ničia a zničia...”
- International Humansit and Ethical Union. IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism (1996)
- Redirecting a Long Life of Godlessness
- Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
- Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
- Definition of humanism, American Humanist Assocation
- IHEU Awards for 2011. Internation Humanist and Ethical Union. Retrieved on 16 August 2013.
- American Humanist Association: Humanist of the year. American Humanist Association.
- P.Z. Myers is (Surprise!) Unmoved By Suicide of “Wealthy White” Robin Williams, Friendly Atheist blog
- It must have been an act of god, Posted by PZ Myers on April 21, 2008
- Blumenfeld, S. "Is Humanism a Religion?" in The New American (2010)
- "CHARLES POTTER, CLERGYMAN, DEAD", New York Times, October 5, 1962
- Making the Manifesto: The Birth of Religious Humanism, William F. Schulz, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 2002, ISBN 1558964290, 9781558964297, 148 pages
- Rushdoony, R.J. "Sovereignty and Law" in Sovereignty. Ross House Books; Vallecito, CA; p. 7 (2007)
- Onalee McGraw, Secular Humanism and the Schools: The Issue Whose Time has Come; Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC; (1976).